Pastoral Care for Pastors Who Need It Most

Pastoral care makes up a large part of ministries, according to one who works with pastors and oftentimes counsels them on a telephone hotline.

Roger Charman is on staff with Parsonage.org, a ministry of Focus on the Family. He says "A number of years ago, we realized that a lot of the crisis mail that we were receiving here at Focus on the Family were from pastors and their families, and we realized that we may need to do something to help them."

"Contemporary pastors are caught in frightening spiritual and social tornadoes which are now raging through home, church, community and culture," wrote H.B. London & Neil B. Wiseman in their book, Pastors at Risk, just published in 2003.

"Something has to be done. Overwork, low pay and desperation take a terrible toll as pastors struggle to make sense of crammed calendars, hectic homes, splintered dreams, starved intimacy and shriveled purpose."

A number of pastoral care ministries have sprung up in Church over the past decade or so as churches realized the stress and burnout that pastors suffered from.

Previously a pastor himself, Charman says, "Ministry in the church is very difficult. Pastors are called upon to work very long hours for not necessarily much pay. Like a medical doctor who's always giving and giving, very often, they don't take care of themselves. Our role and role of other ministries is to take care of the pastor."

A number of different pastoral care ministries are available. For example, Parsonage.org is a "Web site ministry" that offers instant one-on-one ministering through the telephone hotline, and information and resources on issues such as personal life - how to find balance in ministry, how to manage time, and how to take care of the family.

Probably the one that has been around the longest is the soul-refreshing conference, where pastors can escape the daily grind of leading a church. One of the first of this type of pastoral ministry is the Marble Retreat, which has counseled ministers in crisis since 1974.

A third pastoral ministry is practical - they provide resources, such as books, sermons, mentoring, self-evaluation questionnaires, and ideas for effective pastorship.

Purpose Driven Ministries of Rick Warren latched onto pastors.com and John Maxwell, who authored over 30 books, holds fast to Injoy.com. Both provide a slew of practical resources.

Maxwell testified his job is to make others become better leaders: "That's really the heart of what I want to do - add value to people's lives. That's my greatest desire, and my greatest privilege."

Meanwhile, Purpose Driven resources have been used by tens of thousands of churches around the world.